Attack Near Iraqi PM's Home

A man is searched by GIs on patrol in front of a Christian church in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, July 6, 2004. AP

Iraq's interim prime minister signed a long-anticipated law that allows him to impose emergency measures to battle a persistent insurgency, an official in his office said Wednesday.

As if in response to interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's move, four mortar rounds shook a neighborhood near the headquarters of Allawi's Iraq National Accord party Wednesday. Six people were wounded, an Interior Ministry official said.

The attacks on a stretch of Zeitoun Street in central Baghdad hit a building belonging to a foundation working to combat chest diseases. Three of the foundation's employees are among those injured in the attack.

A mortar also hit near a home used by Allawi, who was not home at the time of the attack.

Later, another explosion rocked the city, shaking the terminal building at Baghdad International Airport. There was no immediate word on whether there was any damage at the airport or any casualties.

In other recent developments:

  • Four U.S. Marines were killed Tuesday in Anbar province while conducting security and stability operations, the U.S. military said. Three died Monday.

  • Barham Saleh, Iraqi deputy prime minister for national security, says the Cabinet is discussing amnesty for some guerrillas who fought coalition troops before the sovereignty transfer. Saleh says the government is deliberating how to give "people an opportunity to reintegrate within society" while at the same time "remaining firm against people who have committed atrocities and have committed crimes against the people of Iraq and against the coalition forces that have come to help us overcome tyranny."

  • A senior Pentagon official obtained inside information on contracts in Iraq by pretending to be a Defense Department investigator, then used the information to campaign for contracts for friends, the Los Angeles Times reports.

  • A joint Pentagon-Energy Department operation has removed 1.77 metric tons of low-enriched uranium from a former nuclear research site in Iraq. The material had been sealed off after the Gulf War, but could have been used in a terrorist dirty bomb.

  • A car bomb blew up in the town of Khalis on Tuesday, killing 13 people attending a wake for the victims of a previous attack. The attack in Khalis, near the city of Baqouba, came two days after gunmen fired at a building belonging to a city council official, killing two people and wounding two. The attack Tuesday targeted the wake for those killed in that attack, who rebels view as collaborators with coalition troops.

  • The family of a Lebanese-American U.S. Marine held hostage in Iraq, is confident Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, is free and well. That's according to his brother, commenting Tuesday, but adding that the family does not know exactly where Hassoun is and they haven't yet heard directly from him.

  • Before the invasion of Iraq, the CIA reportedly was told by Iraqi scientists' relatives that the country's weapons of mass destruction programs had ended. That's according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report quoted by the New York Times, which says the CIA did not pass on that information to President Bush as he prepared the administration's case for going to war against Iraq.

  • The terrorist group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for an attack on U.S. forces in western Baghdad earlier this week, according to a statement posted on an Islamic Web site.

    The United States is offering $25 million for information leading to the capture of al-Zarqawi, who is suspected of being behind a series of coordinated attacks on police and security forces that killed 100 people only days before U.S. forces handed over power to an Iraqi interim government.

    His followers have also claimed responsibility for the beheading of American Nicholas Berg and South Korean Kim Sun-il.

    An armed vigilante group calling itself the "Salvation Movement" threatened on Tuesday to kill al-Zarqawi for insurgency attacks that have killed Iraqis.

    Wednesday's mortar attacks are the second time that Allawi's party, the Iraqi National Accord, was targeted. In the days before U.S. officials handed over power to Allawi's interim government on June 28, insurgents overran the offices of the Iraq National Accord party in Baqouba, an insurgent hotspot north of the capital, Baghdad. No one was hurt in that assault.

    The attacks came only hours after Allawi was set to unveil the law formally. The new law gives Iraqi officials the ability to institute martial law for limited periods of time and under special circumstances.

    "We realize this law might restrict some liberties, but there are a number of guarantees," Justice Minister Malik Dohan al-Hassan said during a news conference announcing the law Wednesday.

    "The borders are still open for infiltrators and, as a result, the security situation is unstable," said Imad Hussein al-Shebeeb, a senior member of the Iraq National Accord party.

    "The lives of the Iraqi people are in danger, they are in danger from evil forces, from gangs from terrorists," said Human Rights Minister Bakhityar Amin.

    Amin compared the law to the U.S. Patriot Act.

    The law gives Allawi the right to assign curfews to specific areas, to conduct cordon and search operations and detain individuals with weapons on them.

    It also gives Allawi the right to assign governors, including military leaders, to be in charge of specific area.

    Justice Minister Malik Dohan al-Hassan said the premier would need to get warrants from an Iraqi court before he could take each additional step and said martial law could only be declared for 60 days or for the duration of the specific violence, whichever is shorter.

    In its current form, the new law calls for the revision of emergency measures every 60 days, contingent on the approval of the Cabinet, including the president and the country's two vice presidents, said an official in the Defense Ministry speaking on condition of anonymity.

    "There will not be an automatic renewal of the law," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. It will be revised "so that we don't have emergency laws in place for 20 years."
    • Joel Roberts

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